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Tue, Sept. 17

Arkansas defendant sentenced to prison

An Arkansas man Monday received a 13-year prison sentence for assaulting a Kingman woman, setting fire to her home and holding firefighters and police officers at bay.

Claude Bryan Oakley pleaded guilty in October to arson of an occupied structure, aggravated assault on a police officer and aggravated assault, all felonies, in May.

Mohave County Superior Court Judge Richard Weiss sentenced Oakley to eight years for the arson charge and three and a half years for the aggravated assault charge.

The sentences will be served concurrently.

Oakley was also sentenced to five years in prison for the aggravated assault on a police officer.

Weiss considered that charge as a separate incident from the arson or aggravated assault on the victim.

"He didn't have to get into another fray with law enforcement who were only protecting the community," Weiss said.

Under his plea agreement, Oakley could have been sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

Oakley originally was charged with two counts of sexual assault, first-degree burglary, two counts of aggravated assault, three counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, arson of an occupied structure and resisting arrest, all felonies.

In the agreement, the felony charges of arson of an occupied structure, aggravated assault on a police officer and aggravated assault were reduced from dangerous to non-dangerous charges, which also reduced the sentence.

Oakley's attorney, Carlene Lacy of the public defender's office, called Oakley's cousin, father and mother to the stand to testify about Oakley's relationship with the victim.

His cousin, Karen Oakley, testified that the victim had sent money and gifts to Oakley while he was in Arkansas.

Lacy also said it was the victim who asked him to come to Kingman and partially paid for the trip.

The victim visited Oakley in Arkansas for several days prior to his trip to Kingman.

Oakley took the stand and recounted how he was upset that the victim told him if he did not come to Kingman their relationship would be over.

Oakley testified that after he arrived in Kingman, the victim returned to her estranged husband the day Oakley was arrested.

'The two of them were like oil and matches," Lacy said in laying some of the blame on the victim.

"And they just exploded."

Deputy Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith countered that lots of people have been manipulated by lovers or have faced sour relationships.

"People can change their minds," Smith said.

"There are less explosive ways of handling the situation."

Smith said most people do not burn down houses, assault multiple victims and have knife exchanges with Mohave County sheriff's deputies.

Smith, in asking for an aggravating sentence, asked Weiss to consider Oakley's previous felony convictions in Arkansas.

Smith also countered Oakley's request to return to Arkansas to be closer to his children and first wife, by reading a letter from Oakley to the victim stating his family disowned him and he only loved her.

Oakley, from Pine Bluff, Ark., met the woman on the Internet and moved to Kingman several days before he broke into her house May 14 and set the home on fire, police said.

He stabbed the woman and assaulted her estranged husband, who was not injured.

The woman fled and was taken to Kingman Regional Medical Center with stab wounds to the hand.

Kingman police officers and sheriff's deputies discovered Oakley near the burning home wielding a knife and threatening firefighters.

A standoff with officers ended when they fired non-lethal pepperball and beanbag rounds at Oakley before they tackled him.

Six years ago, he was sentenced to 20 to 30 years in prison in Arkansas for a 1995 incident in which he stabbed his estranged wife and her older son and held his infant son hostage.

In that case, he was convicted of attempted first-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder, two counts of terrorist threatening, two counts of kidnapping, residential burglary and false imprisonment of the infant son.

Oakley, 36, was paroled last year after serving about five years in prison, placed under supervision and ordered not to leave Arkansas.

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